KYLE Steyn has revealed that his love of the Glaswegian sense of humour – to be specific, the “relentless p***-taking” – is a major reason why he feels so settled in the city that he decided to sign a new long-term deal with Glasgow Warriors.
The 27-year-old’s new contract – called only a “multi-year extension” to his stay in a team press release but understood to be for three years – was announced yesterday. Born in Johannesburg, Steyn signed for Glasgow in early 2019 and made his Scotland debut the following March. He was then sidelined for more than a year as a combination of a long-term hamstring injury and lockdown, but has since re-established himself as a key member of Danny Wilson’s team.
He also returned to the Scotland squad last autumn, winning his second and third caps against Tonga and Australia, and was named on Wednesday in Gregor Townsend’s squad for the Six Nations Championship. He qualifies to play for his adoptive country as his mother is from Glasgow, but despite that family background he admitted to being taken aback at first by the robust nature of casual conversation here.
“Everybody in Glasgow is down to earth,” Steyn said yesterday after his new deal was announced. “I love the sense of humour. Nobody takes themselves too seriously. You can meet anyone in a coffee shop and chat to them – they’ll rip the p*** out of you and vice versa pretty early on. There’s no shots held back.
“That was one thing that probably took the longest to get used to was how relentless it is over here. Back home somebody would have taken the mickey out of you then forgotten about it two days later, but here a week, two weeks later they’re still giving you the same old joke.
“It’s just absolutely relentless. If you can’t give it back . . . It’s a sink-or-swim kind of situation. You’ve just got to take it for what it is and dish it right back and it just becomes good fun.”
Steyn can give as good as he gets on the rugby field as well as in the coffee shops, and given his physicality, his intelligent reading of the game and his ability to play at outside centre as well as on the wing, he could easily have attracted offers from elsewhere. However, he did not have to think too long before agreeing to prolong his stay at Scotstoun.
“It was an easy decision,” he continued. “I’ve loved my time at the club so far. Everyone at Warriors and in the Glasgow community has been really welcoming to me and Ally, my fiancee.
“Just mentally it’s nice not to have to worry about this for a couple of years now, searching for a club. The next time I do it I’ll be an old bastard, so it could be a bit trickier then. But yeah, it is good. We’re just so happy my fiancee and I, in Glasgow, and it’s just nice to be able to nail down and just crack on and really get stuck on.”
Steyn is expected to be named today in Glasgow’s starting line-up for tomorrow night’s Champions Cup pool game against La Rochelle, as is Ryan Wilson, who began on the bench in last week’s calamitous collapse against Exeter. The Warriors are almost certain to qualify for the last 16 if they beat the French side at Scotstoun in their last Pool A game, but they know that to have a chance of doing that they will have to play far more consistently than they did six days ago, when they led 17-14 with 30 minutes to go, but then fell apart and went down 52-17.
It was a miserable afternoon for all the squad, but especially for captain Wilson, who was celebrating becoming just the second player after Rob Harley to make 200 appearances for the team. Now, however, the back-row forward is adamant that the team can put that disheartening experience behind them and hold on to the top-eight place they need to go through to the knockout stages of the competition.
“It’s all to play for,” Wilson said. “We need to go out there and beat these boys at home, which we are fully capable of, especially with our fans back this week.”
Wilson, who had been out of action for Covid-related reasons, was not entirely happy to be named among the substitutes last week, but admitted there was a useful side to the experience. “I’ve been on the bench before, obviously, but not for quite a while and you do sort of forget what to do,” he added. “I was much more relaxed, because you know you’re not going straight into the heat of the battle. But I would have preferred to be starting.”